Trade Deadline 2023: Sellers

  • With the trade deadline barreling towards us and chatter heating up, it’s an exciting time to be thinking about hoops. The potential of this part of the year is invigorating; no matter where your team is at, they’ll be in the mix. Rebuilding teams can stockpile more assets for future seasons, contending teams can get that last missing piece, and the teams in the middle will be able to pick their lane. Transactions can rejuvenate a franchise and change the balance of power in the league, and while those are definitely in the minority, it’s always fun to dream.

    The advent of the Play-In tournament has changed the landscape a bit, as teams that aren’t actual title contenders can still trick themselves into the idea of being a playoff team. Add in the fact that some of the team’s rebuilding teams are ahead of schedule and you have a market that should benefit the clear sellers, with only a handful of teams who will definitely be moving present contributors for players and picks that will help more down the line.

    Detroit Pistons

    The Pistons can’t even play out the string of the season getting reps for their top young guys together. Cade Cunningham’s season-ending surgery closed the book on Detroit pretty early on, though previous reporting has the Pistons generally hesitant to go through a full fire sale. Their goal should be to maximize the value of what they currently have while trying to build around Cunningham moving forward. The emergence of Killian Hayes and Jalen Duren are already huge wins, and there’s enough of a skeleton on the roster to see where the team is heading.

    Bojan Bogdanovic is the guy opposing teams will be most interested in, and for good reason. He’s a terrific scoring threat and 3-point sharpshooter, who has seen enough playoff action to qualify as someone that you know will hold up on both ends of the floor. His trade to the Pistons last summer was a surprise in that it was a win-now move for a team that wasn’t ready to win, but it sounds like it’ll take an overpay to pry him out of Detroit. The rumor is an unprotected first-round pick, though teams may not want to go that far unless they’re sold on the idea that Bogdanovic is the perfect piece to elevate a championship contender. If someone ponies up however, Bogdanovic has a chance to be the most polished scorer on the move this week.

    Alec Burks offers appeal as a quality second-unit leader who can both score and make plays. Along with Bogdanovic, he’s one of the team’s few options in terms of players who can create their own shot and make tough ones, and the Pistons are said to be viewing him as a contributor for next season in a similar role. It sounds like an overpayment would have to be on the table in order for Burks to be on the move — and there’s something to be said about the remaining games for the Pistons if Burks and Bogdanovic both head out of town. Reps in elevated roles can be helpful for young players, but turning things into a chaotic mess where there’s no clear role definition or steady hands to settle things down can be a huge drag on development.

    Nerlens Noel is the guy most likely to be on the move as it has already been agreed that a new team would be best for all parties. The issue is whether the Pistons will get someone to take his salary, and odds are that Troy Weaver will have no interest in attaching anything to Noel just to get him off the roster. Noel is still a quality rim protector and rotation-level center, but contending teams may opt to play chicken and see if the Pistons will just buy him out after the deadline. He’s not playing for the Pistons so a move doesn’t change anything, while whoever ends up with Noel will enjoy his defensive presence for 15 minutes a night. That’s not nothing for a contender.

    The most interesting name to monitor is that of Saddiq Bey. The vultures should be circling after Bey was benched earlier in the year, as it marked a clear step back for a player who was plugged in as an every-night starter last year. There’s politics at play as the Pistons seemed intent on proving Marvin Bagley’s signing wasn’t a mistake, even as it meant pushing Bey to the bench and limiting minutes from Jalen Duren, so the team may not have soured on Bey as much as it looks at first glance. That said, Bey may be cheaper to acquire than Bogdanovic, and he’s a cheaper, younger player who can fill a 3-and-D role. A Bey move would be surprising given the Pistons’ roster construction and team timeline, but never say never.

    Hamidou Diallo is another name to monitor as a hyperathletic wing who may find himself blocked on the depth chart if the Pistons don’t move out some wings. He has the bounce to be a real transition threat and high-energy defender in short spurts for a deep team.

    Charlotte Hornets

    After two embarrassing trips to the Play-In, the Hornets have bottomed out this season. LaMelo Ball’s injury troubles ended the season before it really began and the Hornets are positioned to cash in a little bit. The team is less than the sum of its parts and that should leave the front office unafraid to make some changes. Assembling as many futures as possible to find guys that complement Ball is the aim.

    The most likely guy on the move is Mason Plumlee, who has been terrific in a starting role this year. Though Plumlee doesn’t fill the stretch-five role that some teams may require, he’s good on the glass, can protect the rim and has some playmaking chops. With so many contenders on the hunt for frontcourt depth, a first-round pick should be on the table. With Charlotte collecting lottery bigs — Mark Williams and Kai Jones, not to mention other youngsters like Nick Richards — it makes tons of sense to see something happen here.

    Jalen McDaniels is drawing interest from a variety of teams around the league, and that shouldn’t come as a surprise given his 3-and-D profile. The rub is that he’s going to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and the Hornets are interested in retaining him. Would a team give up picks or players for someone that could be out the door this summer anyway? Teams with cap space can just sit tight and chase him on the open market, but McDaniels would lift just about any bench as a quality, versatile forward.

    Kelly Oubre has been a bit of a forgotten man lately with Ball finally healthy while he’s rehabbing from his own injury, but he’d be a sensible target for any team in need of scoring pop and 3-point shooting. He’s a bit of a wild card — ask the Warriors how the Oubre experiment worked out — but if he can fill a streamlined role, Oubre should be a good wing add that won’t break the bank.

    Gordon Hayward won’t be in demand unless the Hornets are attaching assets to get him off the books, but his hefty contract is something that the team can use for salary-matching purposes if they get involved in a huge deal. Trading bad money for bad money isn’t ideal, but if the Hornets can trim their financial commitments even a little bit it might be worth a shot. Hayward isn’t a bad player, per se, he just can’t stay healthy and isn’t worth his contract. If a better team has short-term dead weight on equivalent salary it’s not hard to see why both parties would be interested in a hypothetical deal.

    Terry Rozier is the most compelling name in the rumor mill out of Charlotte. Armed with a shiny new extension and a history of pretty solid play alongside Ball, the Hornets don’t have to make a move here. On the other hand, clearing the cap sheet and recouping some assets for a score-first, undersized guard with questionable defensive skills sure sounds like an appealing proposition. Consider how many playoff teams are looking for guard help. It’d be a ridiculous mistake to not at least have the conversation about trading Rozier.

    Houston Rockets

    The Rockets are stocked with young talent, which makes watching their aimless play all the more saddening. Until the team enforces some discipline and give the youngsters a real on-court structure in which to grow and thrive, Houston is just spinning its wheels. Most of the guys on the roster are young enough that you can envision them as part of the core moving forward, while a lot of the guys who you don’t view in that way won’t have any trade appeal around the league. Maybe Houston holds off on some bigger moves until the summer, when they may or may not need to make space for a certain bearded guard.

    Is this the year that the Rockets finally trade Eric Gordon? They’ve been holding out for a first-rounder and seem to value him more highly than anyone else in the league. There’s an appreciation for Gordon’s willingness to change roles and take on tougher defensive matchups to spare the youth from that workload, but it’s not exactly like the Rockets are building good habits among their prospects, so the weight given to Gordon’s Veteran Presence may be a little much. He’s someone that should add scoring and shooting to a team’s second unit, and it would be wise for the Rockets to cash out now. Taking Gordon off the roster creates more opportunities for guys like Tari Eason, Jae’Sean Tate and Josh Christopher — players who may be around when the team is competitive again.

    Kenyon Martin Jr. is in the middle of a resurgent season, keyed by a move to small forward full-time. A young player with great athleticism who can shoot and protect the rim would be a popular target for any good team, and if the Rockets can extract a first-round pick from someone they might be willing to dance. The arrival of Eason makes it easier to imagine Houston cashing out here, but they won’t be actively shopping Martin.

    San Antonio Spurs

    The Spurs had a long run of dominance and are now paying the piper a bit as they rebuild. It’s a trade any fan should take, with apologies to those out there who only just aged into Spurs fandom. Timing is everything.

    Jakob Poeltl may be the best player we see dealt this season, and he’s getting interest from teams all over the standings. One of the league’s best rim protectors, it remains to be seen if Poeltl is the sort of guy that can hold up to 35 minutes a night in the postseason, but the fact that the Spurs have already been limiting his minutes means that some team may be ready to try. If the Spurs aren’t confident that they can re-sign Poeltl as an unrestricted free agent, it makes sense to move him. Rim protection is a must for any contending team and the Spurs should be able to get a first-rounder and another asset or two in any Poeltl trade. With upside play Zach Collins waiting in the wings, getting a big man back isn’t a prerequisite for any deal, either.

    Josh Richardson is a competent 3-and-D wing who has shown he can handle a little work as a secondary playmaker, too. He’s not going to move the needle for a team with title hopes but he can be plugged into any rotation and fill a few roles. The ask shouldn’t be high on this one.

    Although Doug McDermott is an imperfect player, 3-point shooting is extremely valuable, and McDermott can hit jumpers with the best of them. Getting his money off the books would be the primary goal here and McDermott would bolster just about any second unit, at least offensively. His contract may limit how far teams are willing to go but if the Spurs are going to prioritize financial flexibility, they won’t have a hard time making a deal.

    Orlando Magic

    Orlando boasts one of the stranger rosters in the league, as it’s really only Franz Wagner and Gary Harris as actual wings amid a sea of centers and guards. Now, many of those other guys are versatile enough to get by, and the fact that Wagner can do it all really helps, but the roster need some balance. There are expendable players here, and the Magic can consolidate some of their talent to keep building for the future.

    Terrence Ross is another player who has been on the block over the last couple of seasons, with Orlando angling for a first-round pick. Their decision to trade Evan Fournier for a pair of second a couple years ago probably kills that however, as teams know what the Magic are willing to accept for a guy they’d rather trade than lose for nothing in free agency. Maybe a team gets desperate, but Ross isn’t the same player he once was and the list of teams that will actually have his arrival move the needle gets slimmer every day.

    Mo Bamba re-signed with the Magic last summer and has promptly been frozen out with the arrival of Paolo Banchero and the sudden competence of Bol Bol. His lack of a role has been a surprise given the way he played last season and teams will surely be calling about a 7-footer who can shoot. He’s a great developmental project for another non-playoff team to take on and even playoff squads could feel comfortable with Bamba getting a few regular minutes here and there.

    Rumors of the Magic gearing up to pursue Fred VanVleet in free agency are all over the place, and it should mean that one of their current guards is on the outs. Markelle Fultz looks great and Cole Anthony has been a key scoring option, which means that Orlando could be ready to move on from Jalen Suggs. While injuries have prevented him from taking off with the Magic, he’s not far removed from being viewed as a top-3 pick in a deep draft class, so teams will be lining up to at least kick the tires. Suggs isn’t as obvious a trade candidate as the other two, but if someone goes out of the backcourt it’s pretty clear who will be on the move.

    Indiana Pacers

    The Pacers are still clearly rebuilding, though Tyrese Haliburton and an unlocked version of Myles Turner have them playing better than expected. While Indiana can continue on as structured and probably get into the Play-In, it doesn’t seem like the team is going to buckle on their long-term plans. That means continuing to make moves that complement Haliburton and compiling players and picks that will help down the line. The present is going well enough for Indiana, but a few more shrewd moves and the future could be bright as bright can be.

    The big name to watch is Buddy Hield, who has seemed like a flip for the Pacers as soon as they acquired him. He obviously fits next to Haliburton but he would be the preeminent sniper on the market and a team that badly needs a 3-point shooter on the wings should be willing to pay up (sounds like the Lakers). Of course, that may not fly for a team that’s not truly in the title conversation (that doesn’t sound like the Lakers), especially if a bidding war breaks out.

    Turner’s recent extension might mean that the Pacers shed some frontcourt salary, and the new contract that Jalen Smith signed this summer could be something that the Pacers already want to get rid of. Signed to be the starting power forward after a big run last year, Smith has been closer to DNP-CD than starter for most of the campaign. He’s put some good work on tape and a team looking for a stretch big should be all over this.

    Just as puzzling as Smith’s situation is that of Isaiah Jackson, who legitimately looked like the center of the future last year during Turner’s absence. A springy rim protector on a rookie deal, Jackson would be an incredible buy-low if any team can get him away from Rick Carlisle.

    Further down the roster, the Pacers have some guys that could be moved for salary purposes or as low-end swaps to change the feel of the roster, with Goga Bitadze and Oshae Brissett both players that could have some appeal around the league.

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